THE LOCAL GRANTING PROCESS

 

The awarding of resources to local initiatives is implemented through the Granting Process. All Jewish organizations in the Greater El Paso area can apply for a Federation Grant. These grants are different in nature and scope from the ones awarded by the Jewish Community Foundation.

 

The Federation starts the process by requesting each and every organization in our area to send a representative to a mandatory grant writing workshop, where these representatives receive an explanation of the way the process works as well as the rules for application for grants. Once this mandatory grant writing workshop (normally one meeting) concludes, the Federation requests representatives from each and every one of the organizations which participated in the workshop to constitute the Grants Panel.

 

The function of the Grants Panel is to evaluate the Grants applications and make recommendations to the Financial Committee of Federation regarding the funding (total or partial) of each of the Grants applications. For a Grant to be considered, it needs to include:

 

1) Clear explanation of the Program to be funded

2) Expected outcome of the Program

3) Program Budget

4) Budget of the sponsoring organization

5) Explanation of how the program relates to Federation goals and/or benefits the local Jewish community.

6) Mechanism(s) for the evaluation of the program.

 

All this is to be described in the standard forms provided to each of the organizations. Organizations are given a deadline for application, but also a special deadline, prior to this, for organizations to submit a draft to the Panel chairpeople to provide an opportunity for early feedback. Once the grant requests are submitted, they are distributed to all members of the Granting Panel.

 

Members of the Granting Panel, once designated by their respective organizations, are brought together for training in order to ensure the fair and proper evaluation of the grant requests based on standardized criteria. At this training, each of the grants is assigned to a specific member of the panel for he/she to be the primary reader and a second person as a secondary reader. The role of the readers is to present the rest of the panel with a  first preliminary analysis of each of the grants. No reader can be the primary nor secondary reviewer of grants submitted by his/her organization.

 

After the initial reviews, the organizations are afforded the opportunity to present the grants to the Panel and answer whatever questions the Panelists might have. These presentations take place over one or two special dedicated meetings (depending on the total number of Grants submitted). After each presentation, the panelists have the opportunity o share their impressions and initial evaluation(s) of each grant.

 

The first rule of the evaluations is that Panelists need to accept the conflict of interest policy - that is that they are not to vote on any grant presented by the organizations they represent nor if they personally feel, for whatever reason, that there might be a conflict of interest for them to do so. The evaluation and voting on each Grant is done base don three basic criteria:

 

ALIGNMENT

This criterion was called in prior years “Quality”. It refers to how closely the goals of the particular project or program aligns with the goals and the mission of the Jewish Federation. The program/project/activity must advance the mission of Federation as well as the mission of the organizers. Also taken into consideration is the quality of leadership and the quality of the presentation to the committee. Grade can be 0 to 25

 

REACH

The committee will assign a score in this area based on the number of potential users or beneficiaries of the project or program. Partnerships between organizations are generally seen as increasing the potential to reach larger numbers of community members. The score will take into consideration the definition of the target audience, with special consideration to reaching out to new or non‐traditional audiences. If a service, priority is given to those services attending to the needs of underserved populations. The budget must reflect the marketing for the program. Grade can be 0 to 25

 

MANAGEMENT

The committee will assign a score in this area based on the organization’s ability to mobilize human, financial and other material resources to bring the project or program to a successful completion. Do the organizers have the structures to support the proposed activity or project they are asking a grant for? Track record of following through with the implementation of ideas. Ability to address challenges. Effective fiscal management and appropriate correlation of budget to the task. Grade can be 0 to 25

 

VALUE

This is a new criterion of evaluation. The committee members will consider the cost-benefit analysis of the project or program. In other words, it is intended to value the cost of the initiative in proportion to the potential benefits for the community. Through this criterion, the committee will evaluate the adequacy of the grant request as it relates to the scale, scope and community need of the project or program. Grade can be 0 to 25

 

The result of these evaluations is, in each case, a numerical value between 0 and 100. Any grant receiving an evaluation of 33 or less is automatically dismissed. These numerical evaluations are submitted by the Grants Panel to the Financial Committee of the Federation for the next stage of the process. No grant can receive an amount larger than the product of their numerical evaluation (taken as a percentage) multiplied by their total request. For example, an organization "graded" at 75, cannot receive more than 75% of their total request. The numerical values attached to each grant are the average of the individual "grades" given by each Panelist. Each Panelist individual evaluation of each grant is considered private and privileged, not to be shared even with other panelists. Federation staff tabulates the results (averages) and submits them to the Financial Committee.

 

Once the Financial Committee receives the Grants Evaluations, it needs to determine how those evaluations correspond with a dollar figure. the first step is for the committee to review the grants evaluated for funding and further determine whether each grant does indeed fall within the goals of the Federation. This is necessary because donors to the Campaign give their contributions based on those goals. In most cases, the Grants Panel determination stands, but there might be cases in which the Finance Committee decides that a particular grant does not fit the purpose of the campaign, or that due to limitations in the amount of dollars available for grants, a particular grant that might fit marginally needs to be dropped from consideration. Once this "narrowing down" is done, the committee compares the amount of dollars necessary to satisfy the granting requests as determined by the Granting Panel with the amount of dollars actually available for the grants.

 

The amount available for grants is determined by looking at the last completed year's financial results. For example, the amount available for the 2015 granting cycle was determined based on the operational results of 2013. Based on this amount, the Committee determines the best way to fund the grants at maximum possible levels based on a special scale that correlates the "grades" to percentages. Once this determination is done, the resulting recommendation is submitted to the Federation Board of Directors which makes the final determination and approves the grants.